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When it comes to fitness equipment, you usually have to compromise aesthetics for function. However, with the Ergatta rower, you can have both.
The Ergatta rower’s elegant craftsmanship makes it immediately clear that it’s a well-made piece of equipment. And things only improve when you hop on, log in, and start rowing — or, should I say, start playing.
After rowing on the Ergatta for close to 2 months, I’m sharing everything worth knowing about this striking water rower and its gamified approach to fitness.
The Ergatta rower is a connected water rower that’s designed to be seen.
Recognizing that not everyone has space for a dedicated home gym, Ergatta’s founders set out to create an elegant machine that’s “living room ready.”
In addition to looking like a beautiful piece of furniture, the Ergatta was designed to provide an effective and engaging workout.
With its gaming-inspired content experience, Ergatta once again zigs where so many other companies zag.
Instead of pouring money into instructor talent and shooting videos, Ergatta developed interactive software that mimics the competitive element of video games and sports.
In other words, just about every workout is some sort of game — you might be rowing at different intensities to snag points or actively racing other people.
Finally, the Ergatta stands out from other rowing machines because it uses water-based resistance that’s designed to mimic the feel (and sound) of rowing on open water.
Prior to getting the Ergatta, my rowing experience was limited to basic rowing machines at the gym. I’d tack 10 minutes of rowing onto the end of weightlifting sessions here and there and always left feeling humbled.
When the opportunity to review this gorgeous piece of equipment came up, I was most excited that I’d be learning how to row properly. The fact that this rower is seriously luxurious was a bonus.
I rowed more than 60,000 meters before sitting down to write this review.
- effective low impact workout
- folds up when not in use
- beautiful wooden design
- user-friendly interface with multiple workout options
- gamified experience that may be more motivating than traditional rowing workouts for some people
- automatic recalibration to keep you continually challenged
- unlimited profiles under a single membership
- water flywheel that mimics the feel and sound of rowing on water
- additional fee for expert assembly
- somewhat finicky footrest adjustment
- not ideal if you prefer trainer-led studio workouts
- speaker located behind the tablet, meaning that the sound may be a bit too quiet
There’s no way around it — the Ergatta rower is pricey.
You’ll spend $2,199 to bring this beauty home, plus $149 for shipping. There’s also an optional $249 fee if you want to have your rower professionally assembled.
To help make the machine more affordable, financing is available through Klarna and starts at $62 per month, depending on your credit.
Warranty and returns
The rower comes with a 5-year warranty on the frame, a 3-year warranty on parts, and a 1-year warranty on the touch-screen tablet.
You can purchase an extended warranty for $209 or $369, depending on the time frame.
As long as the rower is in its original condition, you can return it for a full refund within the first 30 days. Shipping is free, and you don’t need any boxes — a technician will come right to your house to pick it up.
To take full advantage of the rower, you’ll need to purchase an Ergatta membership.
The membership costs $29 per month and includes an unlimited number of member profiles.
This means you can expect to pay $348 per year. However, new members can get 1 month free when they commit to a 1-year membership.
Is the Ergatta membership worth it?
While a membership is optional, it grants you access to Ergatta’s extensive and ever-growing library of game-based workouts.
You could absolutely buy the rower and not the membership — you’d still have the basic functionality of the rower and touch screen, including real-time workout metrics. However, you’d be missing out on what makes the rower special.
I was really impressed to learn that an Ergatta membership includes unlimited profiles.
This meant that everyone else in my household — my husband, all four kids (including my 7-year-old), and my father-in-law — was able to enjoy their own personal profile and performance tracking without affecting my stats.
For such an effective piece of equipment, the rower has a surprisingly tidy footprint.
Upright, it takes up the same footprint as a typical barstool. While the rower has contoured edges on the rails to help reduce scrapes in the upright position, Ergatta recommends a ceiling height of at least 87 inches (in.) (220.98 cm).
When you’re using the rower, you don’t need a ton of extra space. Plan for a foot or so behind the rower, as well as a width of the span of your extended elbows.
For an immersive experience, the rower is equipped with a 17.3-in. (43.9-cm) HD touch screen. It’s also Bluetooth-enabled to connect to things like heart rate monitors, speakers, and wireless earbuds.
Note that heart rate monitors requiring a PIN, like the Apple Watch, aren’t currently supported, though the company says this feature is in the works.
To stream classes, you’ll need an internet connection with a bandwidth of at least 10 megabits per second (Mbps). The rower also needs to be plugged into an outlet.
There is a built-in speaker behind the touch screen, but even when the volume is turned all the way up, it’s a little on the quiet side. Then again, we had our rower in the garage. Sound might not be an issue in smaller workout spaces or when using the rower with headphones.
Ergatta has a selection of music you can choose from before a workout, but I prefer to use a separate speaker and play my own tunes. Between the visual cues in the workouts and the sound on high, I have no problem staying in the game.
Key specs of the Ergatta rower
- Ready for use: 86 x 23 x 40 in. (218.4 x 58.4 x 101.6 cm)
- Stored with screen down: 86 x 23 x 22.5 in. (218.4 x 58.4 x 57.15 cm)
- Upright: 23 x 22.5 x 86 in. (58.4 x 57.15 x 218.4 cm)
- Without water: 76.5 pounds (lbs.) (34.7 kg)
- With flywheel properly filled: 103 lbs. (46.72 kg)
Up to a 40-in. (101.6-cm) inseam, which is around 6 feet 8 in. (203 cm) in height
500 lbs. (226.78 kg)
1920 x 1080 full HD
17.3 in. (43.9 cm)
I opted to have our rower professionally assembled, which means someone pre-assembled the rower for me, lifted it out of the back of a hatchback, and wheeled it into my garage.
The installer also filled the flywheel with filtered water, added a small purifying tablet to keep the water crystal clear, plugged the machine in, and showed me how to collapse the tablet and lift the whole thing into its upright position.
He also explained how to tighten the fittings and left me with a small drawstring bag that included a funnel, extra purifying tablets (which Ergatta supplies free for life), and the manual.
The entire process took less than 20 minutes.
I specifically asked the installer about the assembly process and was told that a do-it-yourself type would need a good few hours to put the rower together. If you’re spending several thousand dollars, it’s worth the extra $250 to have it delivered ready to go.
You might assume that because it’s a water rower, you’ll be stuck filling or draining the flywheel. Not so.
Once it’s filled, you never need to empty or replace the water again (unless you’re moving and you want to make it as light as possible).to the water every 6 months, but that’s the extent of the water maintenance needs.
Did I mention the Ergatta rower is handmade with American cherry in Rhode Island? Each rower is made by WaterRower, a renowned builder of water rowers.
The rower is stunning in its simplicity, with a water flywheel designed to simulate the dynamics of a competitive rowing boat.
I’ve never actually rowed on open water, so I can’t speak to how well it accomplishes that, but I will say that the sound of the moving water is incredibly calming and almost meditative.
Because it’s a water rower, there’s no fiddling with resistance knobs. The flywheel cleverly leverages the water’s resistance to your output.
In other words, the harder you pull, the greater the resistance.
The footrests are adjustable, though doing so required a bit more effort than I’d expected.
The handle is soft and easy to grip, and I’ve had no issues with calluses or irritation after 2 months of regular use.
The seat is likewise comfortable, if a little firm. My backside gets a little sore during longer workouts, but it’s nothing terrible.
I found setting up the digital experience to be a breeze, though I did spend far too long hunting for the “on” button. (Tip: It’s on the back of the touch screen.)
Once the machine is turned on, the screen walks you through the sign-up process, which includes setting up your subscription and creating a user profile. Once that’s done, all that’s left is to start rowing.
To begin a workout, you simply power on the tablet and choose your profile. Occasionally, the device will need to download a software update, but in my experience, the updates are pretty quick.
After choosing your profile, you’ll select from four workout categories:
- Push programs. These are goal-based workouts that move you toward a final challenge over a specific timeline. If you struggle with workout consistency, these are a good option.
- Interval workouts. I love these workouts! They’re interval-based with personalized targets. The game aspect is front and center here, particularly in the meteor workouts, which reward you with points for maintaining a certain pace.
- Race workouts. These classes pit you against other Ergatta members in your fitness group and are ideal if you’re motivated by competition.
- Open, scenic row. These are self-led time, distance, or interval workouts set against beautiful coastal backdrops in places like Spain and Thailand. My youngest child and I really enjoyed these.
Within each category, you can filter workouts by duration or distance.
The rower as a whole is very user-friendly and easy to navigate. Here’s a brief rundown on what it’s like to exercise using a gamified rower.
Performance tracking and automatic recalibration
After you set up your user profile, the screen will prompt you to complete a 1,000-meter row so that the rower can calibrate to your fitness level.
After every 10 workouts, the machine automatically recalibrates to ensure that your targets, intensity zones, and goals match the progress you’ve made. You can also manually recalibrate at any time.
The types of metrics displayed vary depending on the workout you choose.
In a race, for example, you’ll see your segment rank, distance rowed, race clock, split, stroke rate, output, calories, and heart rate (if you’re connected to a heart rate monitor).
You’ll also see your competitors’ names and how many meters behind or in front of you they are.
It’s a lot of information, but it is all neatly summarized afterward in final race rankings, global race rankings, and stats.
Instruction and technique
Because I had never been instructed on how to row, I began by following several “getting started” videos to learn and practice proper technique. These classes also helped familiarize me with all the metrics.
The introductory series of classes ends with the 1,000-meter calibration row. I ended up in fitness class four and excitedly picked a race.
After six 250-meter segments with 20 seconds of rest in between, I was dead last and certain that I was in the wrong fitness class. So I went back to the tutorials to figure out what I was doing wrong.
I watched all the available videos and started doing speed workouts to better understand how to row more efficiently.
Once I felt more confident in my technique, I settled into a routine of alternating between interval workouts and races.
Here’s a tip for when you’re racing: Don’t wait for the starting gun! I couldn’t figure out why everyone else was meters ahead of me the second that the race began, until I finally realized you can use the 10-second countdown to build your start.
After 2 months of regularly using the machine, my race times have vastly improved, and I have a number of first-place finishes under my belt.
In addition to the standard workouts, Ergatta regularly offers community challenges, such as rowing 30,000 meters or completing a certain number of interval workouts.
The 2022 annual challenge is to row at least 500,000 meters in the calendar year.
You can also earn badges for achieving milestones, such as rowing your first 10,000 meters, or set private challenges for yourself.
Ergatta rolled out its first live race in April 2022. However, so many people registered to race that the system crashed and a bunch of people, including my son, were kicked out of the race just as it began.
The company says it’s working out the bugs and plans to offer live races again in the future.
If you’ve read my review up to this point, then it should come as no surprise that I think the Ergatta rower is a fantastic piece of equipment.
Rowing itself is a low impact form of exercise that’s wildly efficient and works far more muscles than running or cycling. It’s a great option whether you’re hoping to build endurance or just need to get a quick sweat session in.
Pair these benefits with the gamified experience of the Ergatta and it truly is a great way to motivate yourself to work out.
If space is at a premium, I’d still recommend the Ergatta. In the upright position, it looks like an interesting art installation. You can absolutely showcase this in your living space without bringing down the aesthetic.
The biggest downside of the rower is the price. In addition to the rower itself, you’ll need to budget for a monthly membership to access the interactive gaming experience that makes the Ergatta so special.
However, if you’re just looking for a classic rowing experience, there are certainly cheaper options on the market that will do the trick.
Ergatta is far from being the only connected rower on the market. Here’s a closer look at some of its top competitors: the Hydrow, the Aviron Impact Series, and the NordicTrack RW900.
|Resistance type||Material||Price||Monthly subscription fee||Foldable design||Type of content|
|Ergatta||water||American cherry wood||$2,199||$29||yes||gamified digital experience with races|
|Hydrow||electromagnetic||aluminum and steel||$2,495||$38||yes, with separate conversion kit||instructor-led on-the-water videos|
|Aviron Impact Series||dual air and magnetic||aluminum and steel||$2,099||$29||yes||• gamified digital experience with races|
• instructor-led coaching programs
|NordicTrack RW900||magnetic||aluminum and steel||$1,799||$39||no||live and on-demand workouts with expert instructors|
Hydrow is a popular connected rower that uses electromagnetic resistance for a realistic on-the-water feel.
At 22 in. (55.9 cm), its touch screen is bigger than the Ergatta’s.
Its content is different too. Streaming workouts are filmed around the world with Hydrow Athletes, or coaches, many of whom are professional or collegiate rowers.
The Hydrow is a pricier choice, in terms of both the up-front costs and the required monthly subscription. However, it has a sleek, modern design that some people may prefer.
Ultimately, the choice between the Hydrow and the Ergatta comes down to the type of rowing experience you’re looking for.
Read more about the Hydrow in our hands-on review.
The Aviron is a connected rower that’s similar to the Ergatta in that its content is focused on arcade-inspired games to keep you motivated and challenged.
Races are included as well, along with trainer-led coaching programs. You can also stream content from platforms like Netflix and YouTube.
The Aviron rower uses dual air and magnetic resistance. According to the brand, that makes it suitable for both cardio and strength training.
It’s comparable to the Ergatta in price, and there is some functionality on the integrated tablet if you opt out of the monthly membership.
The RW900 from NordicTrack uses magnetic resistance for a smooth, silent workout.
It also looks like a big, fancy rower, with a 22-in. (55.9-cm) integrated tablet that swivels 360 degrees so you can take your workout from the rower to the floor.
According to NordicTrack, the RW900 has a premium sound system for streaming live and on-demand workouts using a required iFIT membership.
It also offers an auto-adjust feature that adjusts your resistance to match your instructor’s during class.
This rower has the lowest initial cost of the three, but the required monthly membership is the priciest.
Read more about NordicTrack rowers in our comprehensive review.
While it’s not a household name — yet — the Ergatta is a beautifully crafted connected rower that offers a unique gamified workout experience. After rowing thousands of meters, I can’t imagine going back to a traditional rowing machine.
With that said, it isn’t cheap. And it’s not the best option if you prefer a traditional rowing experience or thrive on instructor-led classes.
Still, the Ergatta is intentionally different on multiple levels, and that’s what makes it so great. Between function, content, and a stunning aesthetic, the Ergatta rower is in a class of its own.